Mark Drakeford: Cladding update postponed 'to respect Grenfell anniversary'

The Welsh Government says it is committing £375m over the next three years to support those with cladding issues. Credit: PA Images

The First Minister says a Welsh Government update on actions being taken to deal with cladding problems in Wales has been postponed ‘to respect’ the anniversary of the Grenfell fire.

A series of memorial events are taking place today (Tuesday) to mark the fifth anniversary of the tower block blaze in west London on June 14 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 men, women and children.

Mark Drakeford was challenged during First Minister’s Questions over what his government is doing to support people here who are facing serious concerns about the cladding of their own homes.

He said a statement will be made later in the month setting out the money spent and actions taken.

Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies raised the fact that a statement due to today was withdrawn from the order paper, and asked why.

Mark Drakeford acknowledged that the planned statement had been withdrawn, saying: "It's five years since the Grenfell fire exactly. We took the decision not to make the statement, partly in order to respect that anniversary and to allow people's thoughts to be with those families who in that event saw lives being lost and futures being scarred.

"The Minister will make a statement later in the month and that will update colleagues here in the Chamber on our repair programme.

"It will bring people up to date on the 248 expressions of interest we received earlier in the year and the 100 properties that have needed more intensive and intrusive survey work to be carried out, and on the investment that will now be made in those properties before the end of this financial year."

Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic at the base of the tower block. Credit: PA Images

Mr Drakeford also set out other planned changes to "the regulatory regime here in Wales" to ensure that people who live in affected properties won’t have to bear responsibilities which should lie with those responsible for apartment blocks.

In response, the Conservative leader urged him to bring forward the statement "at the earliest opportunity."

Andrew RT Davies also asked how much money had been spent, adding: "The Minister announced £375 million at the end of March. Are you in a position to confirm how much of that money has been allocated already, and where has it been allocated to?

"And if it hasn't been allocated, what is the timeline to issue that money out to people who can benefit from it?"

Mark Drakeford replied: "I don't have the figure in front of me and I don't just want to guess it from memory.

"Money is being spent from the £375 billion, and I'll make sure that the Member has the accurate figure of what has been spent so far on the survey work and is due to be spent on the remedial and repair work during the rest of this calendar year."